By Carly Proulx

Artist and painter Andy Weinstein, a twenty-two-year-old senior at Colgate University, brings the 401 Gallery at MVCA a newly inspired exhibit. Weinstein won Best in Show in the Mohawk Valley Center for the Art’s 2022 All Art Regional for his piece “Old Dirt Road,” an oil painting depicting exactly what you might be thinking if you’re from the Valley or are familiar with old dirt roads around Central NY. Join us at MVCA for the opening reception of ‘Remnant Landscapes’ on April 13, 2024, from 2 PM-4 PM to experience your memories through the visions of Weinstein, available for viewing during MVCA Gallery hours through to May 18, 2024.

In “Old Dirt Road,” a rich textured landscape created using the palette knife technique, we see the back of a truck driving up an old dirt road. Weinstein applied big dollops of paint, making slashes across the canvas with his palette knife to achieve a rather memorable effect. The painting bottles a stillness of emotion and sentiment yet transmits a real vibe to the viewer of what it’s like to either spend time in or pass through these kinds of places that some see as stark, remote, and eerily isolating while others simply know it as countryside, peace, beauty, and home. Weinstein’s most recent work which will be shown in Remnant Landscapes this spring, is representative of the transitory stage between this painting style and what he began exploring as an art requirement for his studio study at Colgate.

Growing up in Baltimore, the most populous city in the state of Maryland, was a far cry from the rural village of Hamilton Village in Hamilton, NY, where Weinstein currently majors in Art & Art History with a Studio Art emphasis at Colgate University. In his final year now, Weinstein was initially drawn to Colgate after his first visit. Weinstein said that although he lived in the city where he grew up, he lacked that ‘city’ environment, and he was never too far from being surrounded by nature’s open country. And so he escaped home to return, trading one set of inspirational landscapes for another and surely some in between.

Weinstein has stayed consistent with his preferred medium of oils but has since moved away from the style of painting you see in “Old Dirt Road.” He’s been exploring its counter style, a technique involving the thinning of paint. The thinning of paint makes for runny paint, which then creates drips. Remnant Landscapes comprises 8 or 9 pieces, mainly larger pieces, some on canvas but with the majority of larger pieces on plywood. Though his previous work scratched at the surface of abstract, this new oeuvre reveals Weinstein’s total abandon of working from a reference image. Provoking some real organic and authentic vistas, Weinstein’s new process is also one that lets the materials do the work. First, he dilutes the paint with turpentine, then brushing it back into the plywood as it is soaking in, he then begins pulling out shapes.

This show is akin to watching a film reel, some old home video of an old world that, despite being inundated with industry and all these things, is still here, and though not maintained or utilized, the same is still being preserved. Weinstein’s work helps to preserve these places by reaffirming our memories of them. What is evident in both these differing painting styles that we see in Remnant Landscapes is that there’s something really intuitive being dispensed onto the viewer. Whether you’re a painter or just an art admirer, it is obvious Weinstein trusted his process and allowed the paintings to come through with little to no resistance. His inspirations endure through both his earlier work and his more recent body of work. In Weinstein’s paintings live the permanent moments and pieces from mornings and skies and old mills in the oil paintings of contemporary artist Charlie Hunter.

Remnant Landscapes is clearly inspired by a multitude of Weinstein’s inspirations, another being the work of American artist David Sharpe and his Abbreviated Landscape paintings. Sharpe says, “Sometimes the abbreviated landscape painting can be more engaging and interesting than a literal interpretation.” Weinstein and I would agree. Painting, much like life, is just a series of choices, one decision after the other, and no matter how big or small they seem, each one bears weight. It is those decisions Weinstein makes in his process that allows for such an effect as is created through both his latest painting study and studies prior. Abstract Expressionism is achieved, and it’s through the balance between abstraction and representation, the effortless movement of paint to reveal shapes and forms, and the intentionality of those empty spaces that prompt the viewer to fill in those gaps with their own offerings and musings, to ultimately affect and therefore, connect the viewer to the painting.

We see the imagery of paintings by the Classic American landscape painters such as Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth shine through in Weinstein’s work as well. Though there are similarly haunting vistas, it is less the subject matter and more the way the artist captures a spectrum of moods that are felt of both the quiet beauty of solitude and the despair, as well as the peace of isolation that ensures Weinstein’s work is well on its way to measuring up to his predecessors. To a great degree what his work shares with these great classics is their ability to beget emotion from this portrayal of a place where we might not ever remember knowing or before being but feel as if we’d before been and perhaps always known. Weinstein admits to neglecting Art History in the beginning of his time at Colgate. Throughout the last 4 years, he’s found great value in these classes as he started to connect to many other works due to the insightful and expansive nature of this teaching, and experienced a shifting from classical to modern, eventually surrendering to Abstract which thus reinformed the work he was making, ergo changing the way he paints.

Weinstein’s latest process is influenced by the American painter Morris Louis. Louis, one of the earliest exponents of Color Field Painting, used diluted pigments to allow solid planes of thinned and fluid paint to carve their paths onto the canvas. Louis nearly eliminated the brush gesture, and after Weinstein heavily handed his palette knife and paints the trade off to minimalism, to flat and more subtle tones in this process was a rather immense change. In 2020, during that not so long ago quarantine time Weinstein explored using Gouache as a medium, what he describes as an intersection between oil and watercolor. He had a short stint with ‘street art’ where he started using spray paint, but it met its end abruptly when his family decided they couldn’t live with round-the-clock open doors and windows due to the constant airing out of toxic fumes. He has explored other mediums since, but oil has won his artist’s heart, at least for now.

Weinstein talks of his key interests when approaching painting. “The intersection between city and landscape and how humans interact with nature, and the idea of the things humans build becoming recognizable forms within a landscape.” Using gestural and expressive techniques in landscape to blur the lines between realistic and abstract landscapes, Weinstein’s work allows the viewer to experience a unique, nostalgic, trance-like state. The viewer gets to experience what Weinstein experiences when he hops in his car and just drives and keeps driving, seeing inspirational vistas that commit themselves to his memory, whether it be long shots or short shots or upon that sought-after golden hour there are certain scenes in which stir up something in all of us, and that’s what Weinstein has successfully strived to capture.

Remnant Landscapes is that bridge where imagination meets memory. Surely, what you will see isn’t so obvious, and it’s precisely that element of unpredictability that makes this show so enticing. This is a show of dedication to Weinstein’s truth, a paying homage to his origins of connecting the dots between the edge of two worlds, old and new, urban and rural, and his devotion to keep finding his truth as he evolves as his work thence follows suit. Though Weinstein has allowed himself to be influenced by many great painters and different styles of painting, his work stands alone.

In the grand scheme of the ‘iconography of landscape,’ Weinstein has managed to adapt, transcribe, and unknowingly prove himself as an authentic, up-and-coming addition of truly great painters. Weinstein, who very well may participate in this categorical theory of mine, clearly does a fine job of setting himself apart from the rest. Come see for yourself April 13-May 18 at Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts, Thursday-Saturday in the 401 Gallery, 12 PM-4 PM. www.MohawkValleyArts.org @MohawkValleyArts @MVCA_fine_arts